Joan of Arc Tower
The Joan of Arc Tower, locally known as Tour Jeanne-d'Arc, lies in the center of the city of Rouen, in the Seine-Maritime department in the Upper Normandy region in France.
The Joan of Arc Tower is actually the keep of the former Rouen Castle. The tower is about 35 meters high and a rare existing example of a round keep in Normandy, like the so-called Archives Tower of the former Vernon Castle.
Rouen Castle was built between 1204 and 1210 by King Philip II of France after he had forcibly taken the city from King John of England. It was built on a hill, overlooking the city, on the site of a Gallo-Roman amphitheater. Rouen Castle was somewhat elliptical in shape and was equipped with 10 towers, 3 gates, an outer bailey and surrounded by a 6 meter wide and deep dry moat.
In 1358 the citizens of Rouen besieged Rouen Castle as they were convinced the Dauphin Charles was planning to pillage the city from the castle to finance wars. The garrison in the castle had to surrender. After Charles had convinced them this was not the case, he regained control over the castle.
Around 1375, the former Dauphin, now king Charles V of France transformed the royal apartments.
In 1419, after a 6-month siege, King Henry V of England took the city of Rouen. He took up residence in Rouen Castle and had the castle adapted to artillery and new war techniques.
In 1430 Joan of Arc was held prisoner in Rouen Castle for several months before burned at the stake on the market square of Rouen. And although Joan was not held in the keep but in another, now disappeared tower, she was questioned here, hence its present name.
On a night in 1432 French troops took Rouen Castle with help of a traitor. When the English discovered this, they laid siege to the castle. During fierce battles the French troops retreated to the keep but 17 days after they had taken control of the castle, they had to surrender and were beheaded. During this siege the castle was badly damaged and it was consequently repaired by the English.
In 1449, King Charles VII of France regained control over Rouen and its castle. In 1485, King Charles VIII of France presided over the meetings of the Normandy Exchequer in Rouen Castle.
In 1499, King Louis XII of France decided to turn the Normandy Exchequer into a permanent court of justice and had it moved to a new building in the city. This ended the castle's role of royal residence and seat of administration.
During the 16th century the castle fell into disrepair and in 1590 the castle was demolished. The keep was left standing as were parts of some other towers and small fragments of walls. Later these were also razed to the ground to make way for urban buildings, leaving only the keep as a remnant. In the 19th century the Joan of Arc Tower was restored with the help of the famous French architect Viollet-le-Duc.
During World War II German troops occupied the Joan of Arc Tower and to make it more bomb-proof they constructed a 2 meter thick concrete slab in the attic of the tower.
At present the tower is used as a museum which you can visit for a small fee. A great keep!